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The Lie Deflator – The effect of polygraph test feedback on subsequent (dis)honesty

Dar Peleg, Shahar Ayal, Dan Ariely and Guy Hochman

Judgment and Decision Making, 2019, vol. 14, issue 6, 728-738

Abstract: Despite its controversial status, the lie detection test is still a popular organizational instrument for credibility assessment. Due to its popularity, we examined the effect of the lie-detection test feedback on subsequent moral behavior. In three studies, participants could cheat to increase their monetary payoff in two consecutive phases. Between these two phases the participants underwent a mock polygraph test and were randomly given Deception Indicated (DI) or No Deception Indicated (NDI) assigned feedback. Then, participants engaged in the second phase of the task and their level of dishonesty was measured. Study 1 showed that both NDI and DI feedback (but not the control) reduced cheating behavior on the subsequent task. However, Study 2 showed that the mere presence of the lie-detection test (without feedback) did not produce the same effect. When the role of the lie detector as a moral reminder was cancelled out in Study 3, feedback had no effect on the magnitude of cheating behavior. However, cheaters who were given NDI feedback exhibited a lower level of physiological arousal than cheaters who were given DI feedback. These results suggest that lie detection tests can be used to promote honesty in the field, and that, while feedback type does not affect the magnitude of cheating, NDI may allow people to feel better about cheating.

Keywords: moral reminder; lie detection; ethical dissonance; morality (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2019
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